Amitesh Verma’s body of work for the joint show Crossing Over consists of 25 canvases in oil, charcoal and mixed media, that he made during his residency at Marnay-sur-Seine in France in November. Edited excerpts from a conversation with Verma about the show and his residency in France:
Why are you having a joint show with the American artist Andrew Connelly? Are there any thematic similarities between your works?
Not really. We are friends and we admired each other’s works. Ours works on display are the result of residencies overseas—I went on a three-month residency to France and Andrew was in Delhi on a residency with the Sanskriti Foundation.
What are your works about?
Much of my previous work is on horses. In France I began working on, among other things, facial portraiture. I was influenced by my new environment, just as Andrew’s work is inspired by Indian culture.
The note on the show speaks of your undergoing a “spiritual arousal” in France?
It was my personal experience. I felt a sense of familiarity when I encountered the architecture and the people there. There was, for instance, Madame Poulain, the caretaker, with whom I developed a deep bond. I also visited Italy and saw the artworks. As artists we travel, meet people and what we see often inspires us.
Do you see things differently now in India after your stay in France?
We are very impressed with Western art, but when I was there people told me that they thought highly of the skills of Indian artists. I had travelled overseas earlier, but never stayed for three months. Here in India we are always in a hurry. Youngsters will go to the Net, copy material and put it on canvas; even established artists do that. I feel that youngsters need to focus on drawing; the essence of art lies in drawing. Just as in music, there are no short cuts in art.
Crossing Over will be on display at the Shridharani Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam, 205, Tansen Marg, New Delhi, from 15-25 June.